Summary: Discover God’s provisions for regaining hope in life.
In one of the Bible studies I attended in Washington DC, I heard someone comment, "I know I have eternal life, and I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t like pain." I agree with that comment. What I need to work on is agreeing with the Apostle Paul’s insight in Romans 8:18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us [as children of God]." Paul had hope that was greater than his sufferings.
A wise person once said, "There are three rings in life: Engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering. We are not guaranteed the first two rings in life, only the third." This is certainly true for those families who lost loved ones in the September 11 terrorist attack and the subsequent anthrax victims.
Despite recent tragedies, we must not be so myopic as to think that suffering began the morning of September 11. Millions of people die each year from malnutrition, diseases and natural disasters. Even if we are desensitized to their sufferings, we need only a quiet moment to remind us we too suffer personal losses and shattered dreams in life.
As a pastor I try very hard not to be shocked by what I discover about people: The couple who wear smiles and hold hands at parties but are thinking about divorce; the man whom everyone looks up to because he seems so perfect but is struggling with an addiction he can’t break; and the woman, who was a doctor in her homeland and is now in America, can’t find a job, because she can’t speak enough English.
What do we do when sufferings, sins and situations rob us of hope in life? This morning, we’re going to look at three provisions God gives to us to regain hope in life.
If you’re alive, and you’ve not experienced life situations that rob you of hope, just keep breathing; you will. A friend of mine loves to point out that tomorrow the world will roll over the person who is on top today. Illness and old age can roll over us also. So these three provisions will be relevant to everyone, eventually.
These three provisions are identified in 1 John 2:12-14. Let me read the passage for us.
You need to know John was writing to counter lies that crept into the church by 90 AD. Christians were facing great difficulties and their hope was staked in a right relationship with God. Certain false teachers added hopelessness on top of life’s difficulties.
According to the false teachers, if you didn’t know the secret truths they spoke about, you would have no hope of a right relationship with God. Or if you could not be perfect, you would have no hope of a right relationship with God. And they claim that the way you live your earthly life really doesn’t matter to your relationship with God, this robbing us of life’s meaning. Uncertainty, inability and meaninglessness produce hopelessness.
And so John identifies three provisions that God gives to us to regain hope in life. Let’s look at these provisions.
The FIRST provision that God gives to us to regain hope in life is the provision of pardon for our sins by trusting in Jesus Christ. We read this in verse 12.
Romans 3:23 tells us, "... all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." The Bible describes the human condition as one that ignores God and does not live up to the intention for which God made us. And this sin condition in us produces guilty and shameful feelings and separates us from our Creator.
Isaiah 59:2 tells us, "But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear."
Our sin condition in life robs us of hope. Guilt and shame traps us in our past failures. And our separation from God keeps us from hope in the future, especially in facing God at our death.
Forgiveness from sin helps us to regain hope in life. Acts 10:43 tells us, "... everyone who believes in [Jesus Christ], receives forgiveness of sin...." Once we are forgiven, we are released from guilt and shame.
Furthermore, John addresses his readers, who have been forgiven on account of Jesus Christ, as "dear children." In the Gospel of John 1:12, we are told that those who have trusted in Jesus Christ are born of God and become children of God. This is a spiritual truth. We can have hope because our eternity is secure as a child of God.
If you’ve not accepted forgiveness of sin by trusting in Jesus Christ, you are tied to your past by guilt and shame. And you are kept from looking forward to a bright future with God. As a minister of the good news of Jesus Christ, I invite you to receive God’s pardon. Whisper, "God, I accept your forgiveness through Jesus Christ. Help me to regain hope in life."